News / USA

Witnesses Testify in Ghailani Terror Trial

Accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani in court
Accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani in court
Larry Freund

Several witnesses to the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, testified on Wednesday during the trial of one of the accused bombers, Ahmed Ghailani.  

U.S. prosecutors continued to lay the groundwork for the case against Ahmed Ghailani, in the first civilian trial of a terrorism suspect once held at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Ghailani is charged with conspiring in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.  The blasts killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

The latest testimony came from two Tanzanians employed as guards around the Dar es Salaam embassy by a private security company as well as from a Tanzanian woman who worked as a political assistant in the embassy and a U.S. Marine guard.

Valentine Matthew Katunda, one of the Tanzanian security guards, testified that on August 7, 1998, he was stationed in a guardhouse in front of the embassy, when he said he heard a loud rumbling, like lightning.  Speaking in Swahili through a translator, Katunda said he was thrown to the floor by the explosion and lost consciousness.  When he became aware of his surroundings, he said, he discovered himself covered with rubble.  He said he was trapped for more than four hours.

Justina Mdobilu, a Tanzanian lawyer who was working in the embassy as a political assistant and translator, told the jury that she was attending a meeting with the embassy's deputy chief of mission, when she saw a flash outside a window.  She said the window blew into the room and that she experienced what she called "the loudest noise I heard in my life, so painful it went through my chest and out the back."  Mdobilu, who was eight months pregnant at the time, said she was cut and bleeding, but that she was able to leave the embassy building.  Her unborn child was not hurt.

U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Brian Johnson, dressed in civilian clothes, testified that on the day of the explosion, he was stationed inside the Dar es Salaam embassy.  He said the blast knocked him to the ground.  He also said he helped rescue civilians from the embassy.

Ghailani, the accused terrorist, watched the testimony from the defense table, flanked by several of his attorneys.  During opening statements to the jury on Tuesday, he was described by one of his lawyers as an innocent dupe of the actual terrorists, and that he ran errands for the bombers without knowing their ultimate purpose.

Prosecutors argue that Ghailani was a vital member of the terrorist group and was committed to al-Qaida's goal of killing Americans.  The government says Ghailani bought the truck and gas tanks that were used in the Dar es Salaam bombing.

This first civilian trial of a terrorism suspect once held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center is being watched closely.  Presiding federal judge Lewis Kaplan already has ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, a key prosecution witness cannot testify in the trial because it would violate Ghailani's rights.  Ghailani was arrested in Pakistan in 2004 and was later moved to the Guantanamo Bay facility.   

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More